The Benz wood body series is very nice and gives some of the warmth you might be after. You'll have to check price and maybe accept used if you are comfortable with that.
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I second the Benz Micro wood cartridges, I have an LP which is a wonderfully neutral cartridge, but just on the warm side of neutral, as opposed to the Zyx Airy 3, I used before. Unfortunately, they seem very expensive in the US, compared with Europe.
Another thought is Koetsu. I used a Rosewood signature and now a second hand Onyx, both great cartridges. It is very hard to choose between the LP and Onyx, so I am keeping both, long term.
As Chadlesko says, do'nt be afraid of second hand. Retipping Benz's is fairly cheap, Koetsu's not, but you effectively get a new cartridge. As a cheaper option, try one of the smaller retipping companies. The Expert Stylus company in the UK, provides a first class, reliable service. They have been in business over 20 years and I have never heard a bad word about them. Recently retipped my 2nd hand Koetsu
Considering your sonic priorities, equipment and budget, why restrict yourself to MC's? There are probably dozens of MM's that provide the sound you're after for less money, and with no Grado hum (or dance) issues. Why go looking for trouble at 2-3 times the cost?
Check out Raul's lengthy thread on MM vs. MC and ask the people there (including Raul, especially). I'll bet they'd have good recommendations.
Hey Droz............Are you hearing any significant difference between your Cronus' built-in phono stage and the Project Tube box ??? To my ears, the MM phono stage in the Cronus is really, really good, and works quite well with mid-priced MM cartridges. My Rega Exact 2 sound absolutely great with my Rega arm and table. In your price range and on your Project table, you might want to check out the Ortofon 2M series. I agree with Dougdeacon that a moving magnet is the way to go for you. Save the $$$ and buy more LP's !!
Good Luck, and Happy Listening !
I would be very happy with an MM cartridge given all my considerations, and I appreciate the Ortofon 2M and all the other recommendations. I switched to the Project Tube Box when I got the Denon 110 which has an output of 1.6mv. With that cartridge it seemed that the output from the Rogue Cronus phonostage did not work the best, and I have seen an improvement with the Tube Box SE-II.
Curio, The Grado cartridges are not known for great shielding so if your turn tables motor is not shielded you'll get a hum especially as the cartridge moves closer to the motor. I've had several tables which you simply could not use a Grado on and, conversely several where they were no problem at all. FWIW.